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Culture vulture: my July hitlist

Missing the theatre and live venues? OMG, me too. Until normal service resumes for the arts world (your guess is as good as mine), here's my personal culture planner for July - podcasts, books, music and theatre. I'll budge up on the sofa, come and join me.

I’M READING: Outraged by Ashley ‘Dotty’ Charles & All Adults Here by Emma Straub

Everyone seems to be permanently furious at the moment (that’s what three months of homeschooling does to you) so Ashley ‘Dotty’ Charles’ Outraged, released on 9 July, couldn’t be more timely. The book is a guide to living through the age of outrage online – from Twitter battles and trolls to the idea that young people are permanently offended on social media. Also on my bookshelf is Emma Straub’s New York Times bestseller All Adults Here. When Astrid witnesses an accident it jolts loose a repressed memory from her early parenting days, making her reevaluate her life. Charming, humorous in parts and the ideal holiday read.

I’M LISTENING TO: Grounded with Louis Theroux

I’ve recently discovered Louis Theroux’s lockdown podcast series and I’m absolutely loving it. Each week he interviews a new guest from home with past episodes including Helena Bonham Carter (turns out they went to the same school but she doesn’t remember him – awks!), Boy George, Rose McGowan and Irish actor and comedian Chris O’Dowd. In true Louis style each episode is informative, humorous, plus it’s nice to plop in your headphones for an hour and immerse yourself in someone else’s story.

I’M RELAXING TO: Virtual BBC Proms 2020

I think that there’s something to be said about the soothing nature of classical music (especially contrasted to my teenage son’s ear-bleeding drill tracks) and have found it particularly grounding and reassuring since lockdown hit in March. I love the BBC Proms (what? so sue me!) – it’s all about making classical music accessible with an informal atmosphere and affordable prices – so was really happy to hear that they’re still going ahead this year, albeit virtually across BBC radio, TV and iPlayer. Highlights across the eight weeks include a celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday on the opening night performed by the Grand Virtual Orchestra, performances from BBC orchestras and singers, plus past highlights on BBC iPlayer. Live performances from the Royal Albert Hall are TBC, so fingers crossed (17 Jul – 12 Sept).

I’M STREAMING: Hamilton The Musical

If you haven’t signed up to Disney+ yet, now would be the time as Hamilton The Musical is available exclusively on the streaming service from 3 July. If you don’t know already (erm, where have you been?) the smash-hit Broadway musical follows the journey of Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers of the United States and is told entirely through hip hop and rap. It’s breathtakingly brilliant (you’ll love it even if you’re anti-musicals), so definitely worth a watch as a ticket would set you back £100+ to see it at the theatre. I signed up yesterday for a more wallet-friendly £5.99!

I’M WATCHING: The Old Guard

With the new James Bond film pushed back until November, there’s room on the market for a gritty, action-packed blockbuster that Netflix is happy to fill with it’s latest big-budget venture The Old Guard. Starring Charlize Theron (full marks for the female lead) as warrior Andy, the film follows a covert group of immortal mercenaries that have fought to protect the world from danger for centuries. I usually avoid all things comic book/superhero but Charlize has been on a roll recently (see Oscar-nominated Bombshell and Long Shot with Seth Rogan) so I’m pegging it as a goodie. Released 10 July.

I’M LOVING: Beyoncé Black is King

Four years after dropping her incredible visual album Lemonade, Beyoncé is back with a brand new film which she has written, directed and produced. Based on The Lion King: The Gift soundtrack which was released alongside last year’s live action remake of The Lion King (Queen B voiced Nala), Black is King celebrates black and African culture and ancestry through stunning visuals and music, plus cameos from African artists including Wizkid and Burna Boy. Clear your diaries for 31 July as that’s when it’s dropping on Disney+.

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